Consultation with employees is essential – do you have a Skills Development and EE committee?


Employee unhappiness and apparent lack of loyalty is caused, in many instances, by the failure of companies to communicate adequately with employees. Employees have no forum to express their concerns or bring ideas and suggestions to the attention of senior management other than through line managers and supervisors.

This is such an unfair and unfortunate situation. In many instances, senior management is not aware of the unhappiness and lack of moral that exists as line managers do not communicate the information upwards. The transfer of information is on a “need to know basis” and this does not include anything to do with staff morale. Senior managers therefore assume all is well in the workplace and remain oblivious to “root problems” that really exist.

The labour relations act has made provision for the participation of workers in workplace committees. In addition in order to comply with EE requirements and Skills Development requirements companies employing more than 50 employees are required to have EE committees and Skills Development Committees.

Did you know that some SETAS are now requesting proof that such a committee has been put in place and that consultation has taken place as required by law?

I quote “Companies with more than 50 employees are required to have a training committee and will be requested in their application for Discretionary Funding to submit a copy of the minutes of the most recent meeting as proof that consultation has taken place around planned training activities and that consensus has been reached. In addition the application will have to be signed by the employer representative and the labour representative”

The objective and purpose of establishing workplace committees is to ensure communication and participation in the decision making process. This is a very good thing and if properly constituted, workplace committees can play a vital role in industry.

The labour relations act states the function of workplace forums is
• To promote the interests of all workers
• Enhance workplace efficiency
• Consult with employers (Communication)
• Take part in decision-making

The most important words here are “consult with employers” This necessitates open and honest two way discussion – between employees and employers. This discussion and communication should not be restricted to line managers but should include senior management and the decision makers in the organisation.

Companies are encouraged to introduce workplace committees and to ensure they are properly constituted and equitably represent the workforce at all levels. In many cases companies have ignored the advice and/or legislation. Some have formed “hand picked” committees to suit their own purposes in order to appear to be complying, thereby defeating the spirit of the law. This short sighted approach denies employees the opportunity of being constructive and active participants in the success of various aspects of the business.

Having been involved in the formation of and training of various committees I can without hesitation state – the impact on morale and motivation of employee makes the formation of such forums and committees extremely worthwhile.

The secret to success rests in the training of members to ensure they understand their role and responsibilities. It is also important for the members to be provided with a mandate outlining what is required of them. The committee in turn should then draw up a constitution that outlines the specific terms of reference and modus operandi of the committee.

© Des Squire (Managing Member) AMSI and ASSOCIATES cc
Des can be contacted on 0828009057 or des@amsiandassociates.co.za

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About Des Squire

I specialise in Employment Equity and Skills Development issues. Qualified facilitator, assessor, moderator, verifier and SDF. Available for any related assignments and or freelance work. If ou have a need let's meet to discuss. Quotes for training on request.

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